Every time I have to put on my extrovert hat, I am reminded first that it does not fit well, and second that I do not, in fact, own an extrovert hat.
The president of the college where I work and the governor of the state were supposed to come through my office today. One of my first thoughts when I heard they would be coming was basically, “I’d better make sure to have my best playlist on.”
BECAUSE THEY ARE IMPORTANT PEOPLE.
And because they would notice that? Sure. Sure, they would.
They turned out not to be the actual visitors, but I still think putting on your best playlist is good etiquette.
Self-care is walking away to use the bathroom when you’re in a conversation you can’t escape, even if the other person is still talking.
Save the phrase “It’s just politics” for things like low-blow campaign ads and candidates fighting on Twitter. When you use it in reference to issues that impact other people’s lives, you reveal not only that these things don’t apply to your life, but also that you have a woefully narrow perspective.
When I bought Ellsworth Kelly stamps at the post office, I lied and pretended I knew who he was. The clerk expressed his surprise that they’d put out the Kelly stamps so quickly–he’d died fairly recently.
“Oh, that’s true,” I said.
In college, the teachings of Socrates inspired me to stop pretending I knew things in order to look smarter. Instead, I decided to just ask. I might look ignorant, but it would be better for me in the long term.
Asking is better than looking something up online later; you get a human perspective that’s missing from Wikipedia. Sometimes, also, you realize that other people don’t always know what they’re talking about.
Since I didn’t ask the clerk, I had to look up Ellsworth Kelly myself.
Kelly led a long life, made tons of art, and passed away in 2015. The single awesomest thing I learned about him? He was part of a WWII unit called “The Ghost Army,” which deceived the Germans into thinking there were allied armies where there were none. PBS made a documentary about it–I know the next documentary I’m watching.
I found both of these articles after I wrote “Are you sure you don’t want any?” Both the author and commenters on “How to Politely Pass on Dessert” are apparently much more considerate than I am–I hadn’t been thinking of this situation as a difficult one, just an annoying one. I expect others to accept a no-frills “no, thank you” as an answer. Not only do I not owe anyone an explanation, I’ve learned that it’s worse to give one–people try to counter your reasons, which is annoying when you have more than one reason, or just want to pass on dessert without telling someone your entire life story, dessert preferences, and digestive health. The article does have some good tips for people who aren’t quite as socially obtuse and uncompromising as I am.
The open letter spoke to me a lot more. I ended up focusing my own piece on the social aspects of one particular question, but a lot of what he wrote echoes parts that I took out of mine. In short: I’m picky about food, and I’m just not going to bother eating something unhealthy if I don’t truly love it.
Snowfall mutes the world. It dulls the machinescape that is modern life, even in a small town. It makes familiar places foreign while softening rough edges and concealing the ugly and the industrial. Walking through …